Aztecs Essay Research Paper The Aztecs were

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Aztecs Essay, Research Paper The Aztecs were an American Indian people who ruled a mighty empire in Mexico from the 1400’s to the 1500’s. The Aztecs had one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas and built cities as large as any in Europe at that time. The Aztecs built towering temples, created huge sculptures, and held impressive ceremonies all for the purpose of worshipping their gods. They also practiced a remarkable religion that affected every part of their lives, which featured human sacrifice. In the year 1521 the Spaniards destroyed their magnificent empire, but the Aztecs left a lasting mark on Mexican life and culture. The majority of the Aztecs lived in what is now called the Valley of Mexico located at an elevation of over 7,000 feet. From the

massive pyramids of Tenochtitlan, to the inhabitants of the vast hub of modern Mexico City, the great valley has been the heartland of many empires. However, the mighty Aztecs were the last indigenous group of people to enter the Valley of Mexico. Like many other pre-Columbian cultures, the Aztecs developed their own political system, religion, social structure, agricultural techniques, lifestyle and worldview. The early Aztecs were semi-nomadic hunters and farmers. According to legend, in about 1000 AD the Aztecs left their mythic, island homeland of Aztlan in the desert frontiers of northern Mexico to begin their 100-year migration south to the Valley of Mexico. Led by their powerful patron god, Huiziloposhtli, they continued their migration southward, stopping along the way to

plant crops, to build temples for their gods, and to offer human sacrifices in their honor. According to the famous legend, the Aztecs finally settled at a spot where an eagle sat upon a cactus eating a snake. This was a sign foretold by their patron god. The sign, found by the priests, finally appeared on a small island in Lake Texcoco. By 1325, on the island, the Aztecs built a temple to Huitziposhtli and began to construct the city of Tenochtitlan, the “Place of Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit.” Over the next 200 years, the city slowly became one of the largest and most powerful cities of the world, and was the giant heart of the Aztecs Empire. Social structure was an important aspect in the everyday life of the Aztecs. The Aztec society was structured in a hierarchy of four

main classes: nobles, commoners, serfs, and slaves. Social status was determined primarily at birth. All members of the nobility could trace their lineage to the first Aztec ruler Acamapichtli. The only way one could rise up to another class in the system was to perform an outstanding military achievement. The nobles usually held high military offices and government positions. However, nobles were also teachers, priests, and bureaucratic officials. The nobles controlled most of the wealth in Aztec society. Most nobles also had their own private land or received extra government land for use during their term in public office. Commoners made up the majority of the Aztec population, and many of them made a living by farming their government owned plots. The commoners were the

backbone of Aztec society, forming the large labor and military forces that maintained and controlled most of the empire. The serfs worked the land held by the nobles and remained on the land when a new noble acquired it. Slaves were considered property, but their children were born free. Most of the slaves were prisoners of war, criminals or people who could not pay their debts. Religion was extremely important in Aztec life. The people devoted much of their time to religious practice and even waged war largely to obtain prisoners to sacrifice to their various gods. Much of the Aztec religion was based on traditions already established in ancient Meso-America. Older gods from ancient cultures were the basis for the gods they worshipped, but new gods were always being added to